Panoramic view from the Big Schloss during the 2017 run.

Keith Knipling

2021 Report

September 25, 2021  •  Wardensville, WV

50 starters, 47 finishers

Co-RD Levi Mason on trail work day

With the 2020 running of The Big Schloss unfortunately cancelled due to the global pandemic, Mother Nature made up for the loss with a perfect day for our 50 starters to run a big loop around the extraordinary Trout Run Valley in eastern West Virginia. The run morning had a slight chill with bright blue skies, not a hint of rain, warming up nicely throughout the day with a smattering of clouds midday to counteract the heat of the sun — pleasant for runners and volunteers alike. Any hint of the torrential downpour two days prior was erased by run day due to the generally dry conditions of the season. Thanks to the help of the Great North Mountain Brigade and the VHTRC Trail Work Crew (comprised of Quatro Hubbard, Tracy Cooley, Luke Evans, Manuel Ramos, Marty Fox, Bruce Tweedie, Cara, Levi and Theo Mason) the trails were in excellent condition by all reports, even after the onslaught of tropical storm Ida earlier in September, which left numerous blowdowns.

Forty-nine runners started off from Trout Pond Recreation Area, with one additional late starter Justin Walters heading off about 30 minutes behind but making up time quickly. Front-runners Jonathon Gowen (defending 2019 champion) and Barret Stanton (on his third attempt of The Big Schloss) were on course record pace coming in to Aid Station 1, with number three Joe Saunders followed by the Winchester crew of Brian Collins and Matt Smith coming close behind. Chelsea Butler took the early female lead, with Martha Nelson, Shanna Briel and Emily Warner all coming in within 5 minutes. None of the front-runners stayed around for many pirate jokes from Aid Station captain Blair Petrilli before they set off to tackle the Bucktail climb.

A Panovision shot of the bulk of the field moments before the start of the 2021 Big Schloss 50k

Aid Station 2 saw Jonathon and Barret increasing their lead on the rest of the pack, still running at course record pace, though with Joe Saunders keeping the heat on only 10 minutes behind. Martha Nelson powered downhill with Aaron Schwartzbard to take the female lead, with Emily Warner moving up behind. Thanks to the extra signage by Aid Station captains Pam and Alan Gowen, no one missed the turn onto the Big Schloss cutoff climb this year (or at least no one will admit to it).

2019 and reigning champion Jonathan Gowen defends his Big Schloss crown in 2021

Allison Holko’s Wolf Gap Aid Station saw Jonathon maintaining his slight lead on Barret, and with selfies in-hand to prove completion of The Big Schloss out and back, they headed up the Tibbet Knob climb and rock scramble, a tough section this late in the course. Jonathon’s lead widened on the last road section, a lead that he maintained for the win, coming in with a time of 5:20, only 7 minutes off of the course record time of 5:13, set in 2017 by Adam Watkins. Jonathon’s defense of his 2019 win is especially impressive given the global pandemic in the intervening year, putting the rest of us and our pandemic lockdown excuses to shame. Barret came in 7 minutes behind for an impressive second place time of 5:27. Martha Nelson maintained the female lead, coming in at a time of 6:32 and 7th overall (despite husband Aaron Schwartzbard juuuust edging her out at the finish). Kelly McDonald’s women’s course record of 6:04, set in 2017, is safe for another year.

Special kudos to Evan Smith, Luke Evans and Andrew Kinkead for their very impressive first Ultra finishes! Andrew’s accomplishment deserves additional detail, as this was his first run over 5k in distance, he finished while wearing shoes that were over three years old and lacked any gripping tread, and he did not carry any supplies with him on the trails, taking in only liquids at the three aid stations (none of the food). While we would never advise anyone else to attempt to duplicate Andrew’s run approach, kudos to him for not only getting it done, but looking none the worse for wear after this finish! Though he did indicate he was anxious to get home as he was starting to get hungry.

First woman and seventh overall finisher Martha Nelson, with co-race director Theo Mason

Thanks to the beautiful run day weather, as well as the opportunity to again socialize after a year of near-isolation, many of the runners and volunteers stuck around for the cookout at the finish line picnic pavilion, as well as camping at Trout Pond. Thank you to Dan Aghdam and Wendy Valdes for manning the grill and food table! Dan’s Meats cannot be beat! Thank you also to Quatro Hubbard for the general support and help with procuring supplies. We are extremely grateful to the wonderful course markers, aid station volunteers, and sweepers as well as the runners for taking a chance on brand new run directors (toting a toddler around the course, no less!). This would not have gone so smoothly without the copious notes, advice and documents handed down from previous run director Kirstin Corris. And last, but by no means least, a huge thank you to the support of the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club for the backing that allows this run to take place, and to MMT 100 run director Kevin Sayers in particular for allowing us to borrow MMT gear for the aid stations at the Big Schloss.

This run and these trails are very special to us, and we are so happy to be able to keep this tradition going. If you have any suggestions for how we can improve the Big Schloss experience in the future, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! Mark your calendars for September 24, 2022 for the next running of The Big Schloss! Entry will open on August 10, 2022.



PlaceNameSexAgeBucktail (8.1 miles)Stony Creek (18.8 miles)Wolf Gap (24.7 miles)Finish (33.3 miles)Notes
1Jonathan GowenM371:032:413:525:20Defending champion
2Barret StantonM231:062:423:545:27 
3Joe SaundersM361:092:524:146:11 
4Brian CollinsM371:163:124:306:13 
5Matthew SmithM421:173:124:306:21 
6Aaron SchwartzbardM441:223:234:506:32 
7Martha NelsonF401:223:234:506:32First female! Narrowly edged out by Aaron Schwartzbard
8Luke EvansM291:263:304:576:341. First Ultra! 2. Trail Work Volunteer 3. Thank you for bringing Lora to volunteer!
9Emily WarnerF371:243:294:546:48 
10T'ai RoulstonM581:203:355:026:50 
11Chelsea SmithF351:213:275:026:58 
12Shanna BreilF261:233:315:026:59 
13Eric ThorntonM411:173:214:567:10 
14David PeppelmanM461:203:325:137:16 
15Rocky CianfroccaM411:313:515:357:32 
16Kevin WalkerM411:263:415:207:33Thank you for marking 2 sections of trail!
17Keith KniplingM451:253:445:257:34Thank you for all the website support!
18Meg RoqueF451:313:535:357:38 
19Evan SmithM261:313:385:187:39First Ultra!
20Alisa SpringmanF461:333:555:387:40 
21Kathleen CusickF461:253:415:267:41 
22Marty FoxM701:323:585:367:50Trail Work Volunteer
23Bruce TweedieM591:323:575:407:521. Trail Work Volunteer 2. Thank you for marking trail!
24Jim HarrisM571:323:555:388:02 
24Jason MaruccioM441:323:555:388:02 
26Ted BielawaM511:323:585:528:18 
27Michelle RindosF461:364:065:568:18 
28Justin WaltersM441:554:266:188:48Started at 7:57, so unofficial elapsed time 8:15
29Bryan SlotterbachM471:414:206:249:07 
30Christian StantonM471:394:276:339:11 
31Robert GrolemundM521:484:416:429:11 
32Tracey ThibodeauF511:484:406:429:11 
33Elaina StantonF511:474:416:439:13 
34Victor LinM411:324:096:149:15 
35Tom MaugerM631:454:376:439:17 
35Nate MaugerM321:454:376:439:17 
37Andy PetersonM641:544:536:479:22Thank you for marking trail!
38Gaynor BourgeoisF521:414:386:459:37 
38Laurel LundstromF411:414:386:459:37 
38Heather MoldofskyF261:384:376:459:37 
41Edward LenoM541:454:377:019:54 
42Tracy CooleyF491:464:517:0210:081. Trail Work Volunteer 2. Thank you for bringing Josie to volunteer!
42Ernesto CasarezM651:394:406:5910:08 
44Jeffrey KlemmM702:005:127:2010:21 
45Quatro HubbardM611:464:577:2010:311. Trail Work Volunteer 2. Thank you for all around support!
46Brian McNeillM631:535:117:3010:32 
47Andrew KinkeadM251:405:027:2810:55First Ultra!
DNFRam OrugantiM511:434:426:42DNFMissed the Big Schloss out and back (9:35 finish)
DNFBob CoyneM742:236:20XXXDNFTimed out Aid 2
DNFAlan ZwartM502:40XXXXXXDNFTimed out Aid 1
SweepKatie KeierF   8:1011:18Sweeps started at 8 AM
SweepCherry GrassiF   8:1011:18 
SweepBob GaylordM   8:1011:19 

The three awesome sweeps who covered the entire course behind the runners and cleared all signs that this race had happened have their completion times noted above in the results. Congrats to Katie and Cherry for tying for first in the Sweep Category! Bob also should be noted for being the first male and third overall.


The list of volunteers who made the 2021 Big Schloss happen can be seen below. Thanks again to all!

Run DirectorCara Mason
Run DirectorLevi Mason
Run DirectorTheo Mason
Course MarkingKevin Walker
Course MarkingBruce Tweedie
Course Marking/Aid Station VolunteerRyan Brown
Course MarkingAndy Peterson
SweepKatie Keier
Sweep/Check-inBob Gaylord
SweepCherry Grassi
Aid Station CaptainBlair Petrilli
Aid Station CaptainPam Gowen
Aid Station CaptainAlan Gowen
Aid Station CaptainAllison Holko
Aid Station VolunteerJayme Dubinsky
Aid Station VolunteerJen Page
Aid Station VolunteerLydia Durand
Aid Station VolunteerRyan Ross
Aid Station VolunteerCarrie Ross
Aid Station VolunteerHomer Komthirath
Aid Station VolunteerLora Adams
Aid Station VolunteerVivien Deparday
Aid Station VolunteerJosie Krughoff
Finish LineWendy Valdes
Grill MasterDan Aghdam
All around assistanceQuatro Hubbard

Last updated September 27, 2022